One would hope that all pet owners are aware of this household danger, but just in case there are a few people out there who aren’t, or if you suspect your pet has gotten into some antifreeze and want to know what the symptoms are, we are publishing them here.
First of all, if you even suspect your pet may have antifreeze poisoning, do not delay getting them to the vet. Time is of the essence if your pet is going to recover at all. It only takes 5 teaspoons to kill a 10 pound dog. And just because it is soaked up by the dirt on the ground does not mean your pet won’t lick it up or eat the dirt to get at it. Antifreeze has a sweet taste, and so it is very appealing to pets and even small children.
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Lack of coordination
- Weakness, nausea, tremors
- Rapid breathing and heart rate
- Crystals in the urine
These are just the first symptoms that can occur within 30 minutes of ingesting antifreeze, however, once the liver metabolizes the poison after about 12 hours, the symptoms will disappear. Once the ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze, is changed into crystalline acid by the animal’s liver, it attacks the kidneys. Then symptoms may not be noticeable for days until irreparable damage has been done. Vomiting may still occur, as well as loss of appetite, dehydration, inability to urinate, salivation, seizures, mouth ulcers, coma and eventually death.
It is crucial that you pet is treated before the liver breaks down the antifreeze. If you know you pet has ingested antifreeze or you suspect it, veterinarians suggest inducing vomiting, which can be done by feeding your pet a teaspoon to a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide depending on the pets size, and feeding the animal activated charcoal tablets immediately and then take them to the nearest veterinarian. Activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide are ingredients every household with pets should keep in stock for just such an emergency.
There is now a drug that can be administered immediately after ingestion that has a pretty good success rate, but it has to be administered immediately and before the liver has broken down the chemicals. If a pet receives treatment within the crucial first 12 hours, complete recovery is possible, however, veterinarians say most pets do not survive antifreeze poisoning simply because their owners do not recognize the symptoms early enough.
Precautions to Prevent Antifreeze Poisoning in Pets.
- Always clean up any antifreeze spills. If the dirt has absorbed it, shovel it up and put it in a garbage bag to be thrown away.
- Always make sure any empty antifreeze containers are out of the reach of pets and children.
- There are some “Pet Safe” antifreeze products on the market now.